I am an avid pop music follower and concert goer. I would even consider this my vice. Previously, I would really try to make time to watch every time a Billboard-charting pop artist would visit Manila. However, gone now are the days when concerts would be special rare events that music fans would save up for. Now these foreign artists come so regularly you really have to choose wisely for which one to buy those preciously expensive concert tickets. In fact, there were three concerts scheduled one after each other this second week at the Araneta Coliseum. April 10 would be The Cranberries, April 11 would be LMFAO and April 12 would be The Stylistics — all of these acts I am familiar with at different times of my life. Fortuitously, I actually won a couple of Lower Box tickets for the Cranberries concert from an internet raffle on Facebook, thus the decision was made for me.
The Cranberries started their career as a rock band in Limerick, Ireland back in 1989. Their lead singer is Dolores O’Riordan, and she is backed by Noel Hogan on guitar, Mike Hogan on bass and Fergal Lawler on drums. Their incorporation of Irish folk music with alternative rock is their signature style. They earned mainstream success in 1993 with their debut full-length album “Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We?” which contained their hits “Dreams” and “Linger” (a #8 hit on the Billboard Hot 100). From there, they went on to have 4 Top 20 albums on the Billboard 200 and 8 hits on the Modern Rock Tracks. They went on hiatus in 2004, and returned to active touring in 2010. Their fifth studio album “Roses” was recently released in February, 2012.
Come concert night, those tickets I won were upgraded to Patron tickets! Of all the years I have been watching concerts (and my regular readers know how many I watch), this is the very FIRST TIME I have watched anything from the Patron section of the Araneta. Unusually, there was no front act. I found this strange knowing the number of female-fronted local rock acts who I thought would be cat-fighting for the chance to open for the Cranberries. The concert started at about 9 pm already. The Cranberries, led by their front woman Dolores O’Riordan, fired a one-two punch right off the bat as they opened their show with “Dreams” and “Linger.” I know some people who could have already gone home satisfied after that opening salvo! She would then sing all of the hits that I know them for: “Animal Instinct,” “Just My Imagination,” “Ode to My Family,” “When You’re Gone,” “Free to Decide” and of course, their biggest hit here “Zombie”, which closed out their regular set. Interspersed with the hits are some unfamiliar songs which I guess are from their new album. She sang two more new songs in their encore, and finally ended the whole show with “Salvation.”
I did not expect Dolores O’Riordan to be such a rock goddess live! Their hits (like “Dreams” and “Linger”) are more on the soft side, so I did not her to rock so hard, and she DID! She was tireless and her voice remained strong despite all the energetic wailing and screaming she had to do. She was amazing, to say the least, to the very end as you can hear on her last song “Salvation.” There are times when I thought she may not be hearing herself as she went off-key. But then again, those are their unfamiliar songs, so I don’t really know the actual tune. And her wild dance moves, wow! Her band was also smokin’ as they banged their guitars and drums like there was no tomorrow. The lone female back-up singer was very effective support with her calming voice helping Dolores with her plaintive Irish chanting floating over the din.
Security was lax, and people could actually all go forward and stand nearer the stage. I often see that occurrence in the Patron area from the higher sections, but it was actually fun to be in the midst of it all. The Patron area felt like a mosh-pit with all the standing and dancing fans. Talking about the fans, I did not expect the Cranberries to have so many devoted local fans. The girls beside us were singing all the songs, even the unfamiliar ones. I was actually surprised that the sound quality was not really that good in the Patron area. My ears went numb with the volume of the amplifier there. I could not hear the audience singing along too much, as I did in other concerts from the higher seat areas. On my videos though, the sound and the singing along could all be heard very well, much better than it was on the floor. Overall, another satisfying concert experience!
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